NASCAR to return to practice and qualifying in 2022

INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - AUGUST 15: The #23 McDonald's Toyota, driven by Bubba Wallace sit on the grid prior to qualifying for the NASCAR Cup Series Verizon 200 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on August 15, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

After being eliminated due to COVID protocols, NASCAR announced Friday the return of practice and qualifying to its race weekends in 2022 and the use of knockout-style qualifying format to set the starting lineup for each NASCAR Cup Series race.

For most of the last two seasons race weekends featured one day shows race largely held without practice or qualifying as access was restricted to prevent the spread of COVID -19.

With rates falling, and vaccinations, in 2022, all events across all three NASCAR national series are scheduled to include qualifying.

“NASCAR is excited to return practice and qualifying to its race weekends,” said Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition. “We missed seeing cars and trucks on track all weekend long, and so did our fans. We worked closely with our broadcast partners, teams and racetracks to create an exciting, unique qualifying format, while keeping several of the efficiencies that helped our entire industry successfully navigate the pandemic.”

For much of the NASCAR Cup Series schedule, the field will be split into two groups and will have a practice and qualifying event that will last approximately two hours. The two-hour window will allow broadcast partners ample time and ability to cover the entire field.

During six NASCAR Cup Series weekends, five NASCAR Xfinity Series weekends and eight NASCAR Camping World Truck Series weekends, NASCAR will implement an extended practice weekend schedule, which will feature one standalone 50-minute practice as well as a qualifying event.

Daytona International Speedway’s Speedweeks and the lead-up to the DAYTONA 500 will employ the extended practice format for all three series. Busch Pole Award Qualifying for the DAYTONA 500 is scheduled for Wednesday evening, Feb. 16, 2022.

The procedures are outlined below:

NASCAR Cup Series

Oval Qualifying

  • Group A and Group B will each receive 15 minutes of practice
    • Groups set by odd/even finishing order of previous race
  • Qualifying Round 1 (Group A) – single car, one lap*
    • Top 5 transfer to Final Round
  • Qualifying Round 1 (Group B) – single car, one lap*
    • Top 5 transfer to Final Round
  • Qualifying Final Round (10 cars) – single car, one lap*

* — Two laps at Bristol, Dover, Martinsville and Richmond

Superspeedways

  • Qualifying Round 1 (all cars) – single car, one lap
    • Top 10 transfer to Final Round
  • Qualifying Final Round (10 cars) – single car, one lap

Road Course

  • Group A and Group B will each receive 20 minutes of practice
  • Qualifying Round 1 (Group A) – 15-minute timed session
    • Top 5 transfer to Final Round
  • Qualifying Round 1 (Group B) – 15-minute timed session
    • Top 5 transfer to Final Round
  • Qualifying Final Round (10 cars) – 10-minute timed session

Dirt

  • Two 50-minute practice sessions
  • 4 qualifying races determine the field and lineup for the main race; order of qualifying races based on random draw

Extended Practice Weekends

  • Events: Daytona 500, Atlanta-1, Bristol Dirt, WWT Raceway at Gateway, Nashville, Phoenix-2
  • One standalone 50-minute practice replaces group practice sessions
  • Qualifying procedure is based on the track type, following the procedures above

NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (90 minutes)

 

Oval Qualifying

  • 20-minute practice for all vehicles
  • Qualifying (all vehicles) – single vehicle, one lap*

* — Two laps at Bristol, Dover, Martinsville and Richmond

Superspeedways, NCWTS Dirt

  • Same as NASCAR Cup Series format

Road Courses

  • All vehicles receive 20 minutes of practice in a single session
  • Qualifying Round 1 (Group A) – 15-minute timed session
    • Top 5 transfer to Final Round
  • Qualifying Round 1 (Group B) – 15-minute timed session
    • Top 5 transfer to Final Round
  • Qualifying Final Round (10 vehicles) – 10-minute timed session

Extended Practice Weekends

  • NXS: Daytona-1, Atlanta-1, Portland, Nashville, Phoenix-2
  • NCWTS: Daytona, Atlanta, Bristol Dirt, Knoxville, Sonoma, Mid-Ohio, Nashville, Phoenix-2
  • One standalone 50-minute practice replaces group practice sessions
  • Qualifying procedure is based on the track type, following the procedures above